- Artificial intelligence doesn’t just loom over the horizon. It is here now and will expand indefinitely into the future.
- The first jobs that will be automated are those which are most formulaic, such as jobs that entail repeating the same task repeatedly – like manufacturing jobs that create products on conveyor belts.
- Most of the jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will decline in the next ten years will not experience a significant reduction. Instead, most of the jobs in these sectors are predicted to be retained.
Artificial intelligence doesn’t just loom over the horizon. It is here now and will expand indefinitely into the future.
The topic of AI has been prominent in popular media for nearly a decade now. However, a question of central importance in discussions surrounding AI has been around ever since humans began rapidly improving their technological capabilities during the Industrial Revolution.
“Which jobs will go first?”
This article will clear the air on which jobs are most likely to be automated first.
Before getting into particular industries, it should be noted that automation is unlikely to be the economic version of the Terminator –it is unlikely to be the actual version of the Terminator as well.
While automation is likely to eliminate many common jobs, it is also expected to create many jobs and replace the ones that have been lost. Total employment is predicted to rise even with the advent of automation, so this article shouldn’t be misconstrued as a warning of a coming apocalypse.
Major shifts in the economy like this are complex, but they will not entail the end of human employment.
The first jobs that will be automated are those which are most formulaic.
That is, jobs that entail repeating the same task repeatedly – such as manufacturing jobs that create products on conveyor belts – are going to be automated sooner than other jobs that are less repetitively formulaic.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, as manufacturing jobs have been steadily declining in the United States since 1979. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this decline will continue indefinitely.
While one source of this decline in manufacturing jobs and employment has been due to the U.S. outsourcing manufacturing, another reason is automation.
Automation is expected to increase substantially in the manufacturing sector. However, this doesn’t mean automation and manufacturing jobs for humans are necessarily mutually exclusive.
For instance, President Biden’s Made in America executive order intends to invest $300 billion in new technology for manufacturing. However, this technology can create five million manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
Even more, the manufacturing sector is expected to increase global productivity from 0.8 percent to 1.4 percent.
Increases in productivity within manufacturing are likewise predicted to improve wages for workers and reduce prices on products for consumers.
If Biden’s Made in America order goes as planned, it may be the key to ending the current supply chain crisis and its economic consequences. The World Economic Forum projects that by 2022, automation will create 133 million new jobs, even while disrupting millions of other jobs
Manufacturing jobs will be automated, but this will not necessarily entail the end of manufacturing jobs. If anything, it will make the manufacturing industry safer, more productive, and incorporate better-paying jobs.
While most jobs that will be automated first are those that generally require little experience and entail repetitive tasks, this doesn’t mean more complex jobs won’t soon be automated as well.
Most doctors have a long way to go before they need to worry about their jobs being automated. Radiologists, however, may find themselves working alongside robots sooner rather than later.
Significant progress in automating radiology – the interpretation of body imaging – has already been made.
According to the neuroradiologist Robert Schier, “My guess is that in 10 to 20 years, most imaging studies will be read only by machine.” However, others suggest it could be upwards of 50 years until this happens.
In the short term, AI will serve to assist doctors in the interpretation of imaging. Still, as Schier suggests, AI will ultimately take the wheel of interpretation in the long term.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that radiologists will be out of work anytime soon.
Doctors who embrace these new technologies are predicted to survive the swarm of automation in radiology. Of course, doctors aren’t always just doctors; often, they’re also business owners, and those who use AI to benefit their medical practice will continue to flourish in to the modern era of automation.
Occupations that will see the sharpest declines in the next 10 years
Apart from the abovementioned occupations, the following industries/jobs will experience the largest declines in employment over the next ten years:
- Service jobs
- Secretaries and administrative assistants
- Retail supervisors
- Office clerks
- Auditing Clerks
- Retail salespersons
- Word processors and typists
In each case, these declines are partly due to automation. However, the reduction of these jobs is not expected to be sharp.
For instance, among those listed, the highest decline is seen amongst word processors and typists, with an expected 36 percent decline in employment.
By contrast, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cashier jobs will only experience a 10 percent decline in employment.
Over the majority of jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will decline in the next ten years will not experience a significant dip. Instead, most of the jobs in these sectors are predicted to be retained.
Of the jobs that will first be automated, therefore, most will be retained –albeit with new cyborg coworkers!
The first jobs to be automated are primarily formulaic and repetitive. For instance, jobs that require little experience or engagement, as well as jobs that are so simple that they become boring very quickly, are the ones that will be automated first.
By contrast, the jobs that will not be automated anytime soon are those that are creative and require emotional labor, such as human services, most of the medical field, education, and hospitality.
The hope is that automation will clear the way for more workers to have the opportunity to work in these fields. Still, the degree to which this hope will materialize is unclear.